The Atlanta Hawks have shocked the NBA world with their impressive and out of nowhere playoff run, knocking off the fourth-seeded favorites New York Knicks in five games, and the top-seeded favorites Philadelphia 76ers in seven games. Nobody, including fans in Atlanta, saw this coming. With all that being said though, the Hawks have run into some trouble in the 76ers series and again in the ongoing series against the Milwaukee Bucks due to the lack of a true number two behind Trae Young, or dominant big man.
The Hawks need a number two scorer alongside Young, and right now they don’t have that guy.
The supporting cast for the Atlanta Hawks has been great for the most part throughout the regular season and playoffs, however, there have been many games lately where the team has not shot the ball well. Kevin Huerter helped lift the team to a win in game 7 against the 76ers, but hasn’t done much since. Bogdan Bogdanovic played like a number two guy for basically the whole season and even in the Knicks series, but towards the second half of the 76ers series, he pretty much vanished. He then injured his knee, which has hampered his game even more, making him basically uselss against the Bucks. It certainly doesn’t help that Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter have been hurt basically the entire season and playoffs as well.
The Hawks aren’t far away from a NBA Finals appearance, which is saying something considering this team had little to no playoff experience going in. Add to the mix the fact that the team has had to deal with injuries throughout the season like many other teams in the league, and it is truly astonishing that this young Hawks team has accomplished what they have. In order to win the championship though, the team needs more. Young is an elite scorer, but he needs more consistent help.
The elite teams in the NBA all have two guys that can take over games. Some examples are Chris Paul and Devin Booker with the Phoenix Suns, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard with the Los Angeles Clippers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Los Angeles Lakers, and the trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden with the Brooklyn Nets.
If Young has a bad game, the team needs to be able to rely on somebody else to pick up the slack, and right now, there is no one who can consistently do that. Looking at it the other way, when the team isn’t performing well, Young has to carry the burden, and many times that isn’t enough, just look at game 3 against the Bucks for an example.
Hawks could use a dominant big man.
While the Milwaukee Bucks don’t necessarily have an elite second guy like other teams in the league, their star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is at a level that many big men in the league can only dream of, which makes up for that.
At times it looks like John Collins could be the number two guy, but his inconsistency in the playoffs has proven that he doesn’t have what it takes to consistently put on great performances when it matters most. It’s frustrating because he is a great talent, but the Hawks need more out of him.
While the Hawks have four talented big men in Collins, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, and rookie Onyeka Okungwu, none of them have the ability to single handedly take over a game. This is something the Hawks need if they don't get a second scorer.
This team is not far away, and is still in the series with the Bucks, with a chance to advance to the NBA Finals. With that said though, moving forward, this team needs to make additions to the roster to ensure this team stays hot for years to come. This is a great team already, and adding one of the two pieces mentioned would improve this team even further, moving them into the elite category of the NBA.
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the Atlanta Hawks, and thinking of a healthy Hawks team with one or two more pieces should make fans even more excited in the future.
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